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Poetry Friday is hosted by Heidi at my juicy little universe

Happy November! Wow, did that ever sneak up on me. The month of gratitude. The month of NCTE! (Yes, in California and I am presenting) The month before Christmas. Ah, 2022 is quickly slipping away.

Here we are with another Inkling challenge, and I, once again, put it off. Linda Mitchell challenged us to write a poem to one of the prompt words for Folktale Week. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. You can find it on Instagram: #folktaleweek, #folktaleweek2022.

I selected the word star.

Have you found the star in you?

The one that shines brightest in the dark.
Your star may feel far away
yet even dandelions have hidden wings.
Open your wings to the wind.

Believe you can fly.

Margaret Simon, draft

I signed up for a postcard exchange through Spark: art from writing, writing from art. I received a card from our own Jone MacCulloch. It’s an illustration that wants to be a poem. Perhaps a Folktale poem? Will you take the challenge?

“Pumpkin Moon” by Jone
Moon: copy of great grandfather’s Civil War letter
Pumpkin inspired by Yayoi Kusama

Check out what the other Inklings have written for this challenge:


Linda Mitchell

Molly Hogan
Catherine Flynn
Mary Lee Hahn  
Heidi Mordhorst


Our first Thursday Spiritual Journey gathering is hosted today by Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces.

Today is the first Thursday of November and a group of bloggers gather to share their spiritual journey. Fran selected the theme for today, holy. I immediately thought of the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy. I thought of the torn apart hymnal I was given by an artist friend to use for collage. I didn’t find that hymn but one that did use the word Holy. I wanted to create an erasure or black out poem. I googled Zentangle designs and set to work on the page.

This exercise became meditative and holy. I used a pen that I had picked up from my dad. He was a pointillist artist. I felt his presence as I imagined the time he spent making dots on a drawing. He was always fascinated by the play of dark and light. One of his favorite Bible verses was John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Holy humble prayer
we clasp hands
worship deep

All love
is true

Sufjan Stevens has a wonderful version of Holy, Holy, Holy that I am placing here for you to listen to. These singers are wonderful, but they start goofing around on the video around the 3 minute mark.

Wishing you a happy and holy holiday season. What does holy mean to you?

If you are a Spiritual Thursday blogger and would like to host a month in 2023, please sign up on this Google document.

November is here and it’s dark. The sun is slanting in the sky, the weather is cooling, and the days are shorter. Therefore, my friend, teacher, photographer Lory Landry was able to capture this sunrise on the way to school. Around here, the sugarcane is either standing tall or freshly cut. It’s harvesting season. That also means that when the wind is just right, you get a whiff of burning cane-fields. They still do this despite its harmfulness to the environment. If truth be told, I like the scent. I also like that it means fall and Christmas.

Please take a moment in your busy day to muse about this photo. Leave a small poem in the comments and write some encouraging words for others.

Sunrise by Lory Landry

November 1st

A scent of wood burning
A splatter of candy on concrete
Jack-o-lanterns gone to seed
A sprinkle of egrets perch like twin moons in the trees
A church bell chimes

Embrace the red sunrise
And praise the morning light.

Margaret Simon, draft

Poetry Friday is hosted by Jone MacCulloch

The Poetry Sisters challenged us this month to create a dansa poem. I’d never heard of the form before, so I thought I would not participate. I got the tug when I read Mary Lee Hahn’s masterful response to the challenge. In our critique group meeting, she explained to us that once she got her repeated line, she built the poem around it. Sometimes writing a poem feels like solving a puzzle. Fitting words together to create a unified whole. The dansa has a definitive rhyme scheme, beginning with a quintrain of 5 lines and an AbbaA pattern. Quatrains of 4 lines with a bbaA rhyme scheme follow. The A signifies the repeated line. To me, the strength of the poem lies in that repeated line. I feel a sense of accomplishment having met this challenge.

photo by Margaret Simon
We released monarch butterflies this week.

Joyful Dansa

The world opens its heart in little joys:
Curl of new fingers wrap around old,
Butterfly wings born of gold,
Beads in a bag become her toys.
The world opens its heart in little joys.

A new interpretation of stories told,
Memory of small moments that you hold.
What you wrap in love is your choice.
The world opens its heart in little joys.

A letter becomes a word spoken bold.
Paper becomes a crane with each fold.
A cry becomes a song when you use your voice.
The world opens its heart in little joys. 

Margaret Simon, draft

Morning walks are getting darker and darker as the time changes, as the days shorten. Recently I have been sharing the dark with a few ghouls and goblins. There seem to be more Halloween decorations this year, and the bigger the better. Usually I post a photo of nature, so today is a bit of a digression. See where this photo may take you: an imaginary Halloween tale or a memory of one Halloween night. Post your own musings in the comments and encourage other writers with your responses. And always, thanks for being here.

Spiders the size of a child,
Jack-o-lanterns glow like the moon,
Dress up like a bumblebee,
Come join in the glee.
It’ll be Halloween soon!

Margaret Simon, draft

You park in the same spot.
You walk the same hall,
see the same faces, but one day,
a child opens her hands to show you
a butterfly, and suddenly,
you become a part of her wonder.

You invite her to go outside.
“Let’s find a flower to feed the butterfly.”
You open Google and take a photo.
Images pop up identifying the beautiful wings
as “Gulf fritillary or Passion butterfly.”

Other children gather round
and pass the gentle butterfly hand to hand.

In your mind, you know this is not a good sign.
The butterfly is not viable, yet one student squeals,
“I’ve never seen a butterfly so close up!”
Others whisper, “Wow!”
“It’s so soft!”

Wonder continues, grows, swells,
so the poor fritillary becomes a subject
to study, a specimen for children’s eyes.

You decide it’s an honor
to be known as the butterfly whisperer.

Poetry Friday gathering is with Bridget at wee words for wee ones.

Every year around the date of October 20th, the National Writing Project announces the Day on Writing along with the prompt, “Why I Write.” I avoid this question, mostly because it intimidates me. Who am I to say I am a writer? If I make that claim, will I be magically transported to the land of authors? Do I belong? Will I meet the standard? I’d rather stay in the closet. It’s easier to claim to be a teacher, a profession that has degrees behind it, credibility, and many years of service.

The problem is I want to write. I want to share my words with you. I want to connect with you through writing. The value in that connection is gold.

In my email inbox, I receive endless blogs and poems to read. I hesitate to delete them, so they build up, and the whole thing becomes unmanageable. However, I never know what may inspire me to write. One reliable set of prompts for me are Ethical ELA’s monthly Open Write. Each month we write together for 5 days. The prompts are written by people like me who juggle teaching and writing every day.

This last week Carolina Lopez drew inspiration from Richard Blanco’s poem “Since Unfinished,” asking us to steal his first line and write. “I’ve been writing this since…”

When we get right down to it, writing makes us ultimately vulnerable. If we are true to ourselves, we put our feelings all out there. This poem structure led me to more memories of my father.

Since You’ve Been Gone

I’ve been writing this since
I learned to walk
holding onto your pointer finger
since driving the circular block
hearing you warn “turn signal”
“stop sign”
“slow down.”

I’ve been writing this since “slow down”
meant thinking, means remembering,
meant crying when I reach for the phone
to call you with the news.

I’ve been writing this since
you pointed to the clock
(after your stroke) to remind us
to get Mom back for lunch.

I’ve been writing this since
I held your dying hand
your pointer finger blue and bruised
no longer pointing me
in the right direction.

Margaret Simon, draft

As Autumn arrives, the arc of the sun shifts. The sky can show us the seasons if we learn to watch. One of my former students, a young mother, lives on a farm where they grow seasonal sunflowers. There’s a crop in the spring and this year, another in the fall. They open up on weekends for “you pick” days. I follow her on Instagram and have a totally romantic view of life on a farm. It must be hard work, especially with the hot, dry days we’ve had this fall. Nevertheless, this image popped up on my feed and I thought it wanted to be a poem.

Sunflower Sunrise, Jennifer Graycheck of Petite Anse Farm.

Blossoms face the rising sun
Kiss her yellow light
Open wings to heal your heart.

Margaret Simon, draft

Your turn. Leave a small poem in the comments and encourage others with your comments.

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme 

My students and I have been participating in the annual Write Out sponsored by the National Writing Project and the National Parks Service. Each day this week we’ve watched a video from a park ranger and followed a writing prompt. We made special #WriteOut notebooks following Sheri Edwards’ model found here.

We’ve gone outside to observe the trees and written a script of two trees talking to each other.

We’ve drawn from observing architecture and written about the significance of the building.

We’ve imagined the day in the life of a bird as it interacts with human environments.

Each day there is a new surprise. I hope I can find a way to continue this enthusiasm for writing after the two weeks of Write Out are over.

The Write Out prompt I chose on Thursday included a Rita Dove poem. We discussed the poem and collected words to use later in a poem of our own. Today I am sharing two student poems written after Rita Dove.

A stranger in a cool breeze,

the moonlight,

animals with odd habits

this is what nature is.

A singing wren 

while almost sun-rise,

become a statuary figure roaming

in the night. 

Relax

and you’ll see

how happy you can be. 

by Avalyn, 3rd grade
Adelyn’s Write Out notebook

I love how both students and poet participants are on the look out for photos that want to be poems. Last week I featured a sunset photo taken by a third grader. This week Karen Eastlund sent me an interesting photo from her garden. She said they planted milkweed hoping for monarchs. I have recently found 3 monarch caterpillars on my own milkweed. Two of them were on volunteer milkweed that had planted itself in a crack of concrete near my air-conditioner units. I’m so glad I left it there growing wild and free like the weed it is meant to be. Thanks Karen for this amazing photo of a milkweed seed pod, open, soft, and free.

Milkweed seed pods, Karen Eastlund

Seed pod opens
to the morning sun
waiting for a wisp of wind
to carry feather-soft seedlings
to the sky.
Plant me upon your pinwheel
and carry me along.

Margaret Simon, draft

Please leave a small poem draft in the comments. Come back, if you can, to write encouraging comments for other writers. Happy Hump Day!